Spark Spotlight: Cassie Torda
At Egnyte the Spark is at the center of everything we do, including our logo. When it comes to our team, we see the Spark as the intersection of talents and passions that drive each and every employee - which is what ultimately drives Egnyte. Through this series I hope to showcase the outstanding individuals whose combined talents make Egnyte what it is today.
* Bold Writing Represents the Voice of Egnyte CEO Vineet JainCassie, it’s been a while! I know you are one of our “vets” here at Egnyte, but for our readers would mind telling them where are you located and what your current title is? I know, I’m glad we could meet. Can’t believe I’m coming up on four years in May! I am currently at the Mountain View HQ and I am currently working as a UI/UX Designer.Wow, 4 years – we will surely celebrate that milestone! What is your current mobile device and your current computer?My current mobile device is Android Samsung Galaxy S6. My work computer I use a Macbook Pro but at home I own a PC.I always find that intriguing. In these “Spark Series” interviews more and more people have this same OS combination even at home. So I’m curious why do you use a PC at home?Just because I’ve always had a PC and I play a lot of video games. When I came out of high school the first device I bought was a Mac but I was limited to the games I could play. So it’s nice at work that I have the option to use a Mac, which I love using for all the design work I do, especially having all the Adobe products on it. Down the road I will want to own a Mac but right now I just can’t justify paying that much for a personal project.Why the Samsung and not an iPhone?I’m a creature of habit and don’t like change at all. I started out on an Android and never tried an iPhone. I never want to relearn all the paradigms. Which is interesting for me as a UX designer.Yes, that is definitely an anomaly. So you’ve never tried an iPhone to see what the experience is?I’ve always used an Android phone, I’ve never had issues with it so I’ve never found a reason to change. I do use the tester iPhones at work to test our apps. (giggles ensue)So what are your favorite apps…besides Egnyte?My favorite apps of course are the Adobe suite, I’ve used it since I was young. There are cheaper versions, not as heavy as Sketch, I still really enjoy it and the most comfortable with it.What about from a work point of view, what do you use on a day-to-day basis?I use Evernote religiously. It’s nice because I can keep all my work and notes in there. I like taking notes, it’s one of my favorite things. When I write it down, it definitely stores in my brain easier but then if I write it down in a notebook it’s not as easily organized. I use Evernote for a lot of personal things too. Like what I want to get someone for their birthday, I’ll store in Evernote, along with other random reminders and different ideas.Let’s talk a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Egnyte. I know Yolanda (former Head of HR) referred you. She’s your aunt. Your mom’s sister, correct?In short term, yes. It’s a little confusing because in the Filipino culture we simplify more. She’s technically my second cousin removed. She’s actually my mom’s first cousin, and my mom has 41 first cousins, so the family goes very deep here.And where did you grow up and how did you first get interested in design?I actually grew up just a few miles away in Santa Clara, so Silicon Valley has pretty much been home base! Growing up my mom let us have a lot of time on the computer. I started doing graphic design, just dabbling, taking pictures and molding them together. I started touching HTML and CSS.How old were you? Or which grade level?I was in middle school, 11 and 12. I really liked the fact that if I typed something in notepad and uploaded it into a server that it would come out as something I created. It amazed me that simply typing up code would actually turn into something, it was very cool. I did it a lot for fun, nothing too serious. It wasn’t until I started at CSUMB, (Monterey Bay), when I had to choose a concentration, that I got very serious about it. They offered web design, so I went for it, and that’s how I got here. I really like the aspect that you get to use coding to do the problem solving but you also get the freedom of expression with the visual design - really working both sides of the brain.
I agree, but design is not easy! It takes a real attention to detail to be great, which can be difficult when it seems like designs are constantly needing to evolve – especially these days as brands are constantly changing and/or expanding.One thing I notice about creative and design folks is that they tend to be good cooks because they can conceptualize a meal and pull together raw ingredients, kind of like you do with design, and make something out of nothing. Are you a good cook?I’m not a good cook in the sense where I can wing it or throw together ingredients. I like following recipes, and the meals come out real good, something I can be proud of. Even though it’s not something I came up with on my own, being able to execute it is accomplishment enough – and then of course the reward of eating it.(both giggle)So some cooking in there, what other hobbies do you have?I really like playing video games, just to get my competitive side out. I also like doing a lot of crafts, crocheting is a fun hobby for me. I don’t have a lot of time for it now, but spending time doing something and then seeing the outcome of it is real enjoyable. Speaking of that, I also like to garden as well with my boyfriend.We like to garden as well. We are so blessed in California. If you don’t overwater and if you’re fairly basic about what a plant needs, this place is so fertile. We have an orange tree in our front yard that will produce plenty of oranges for us to eat all the way until at least July!Getting back on track, how did you find the job at Egnyte?This was an interesting story. I was about a year out of school. I was doing web design for a small company in Monterey, more print than web. Yolanda had messaged if I knew any senior web designers looking for a job. I told her I didn’t know any senior designer but if they (Egnyte) were willing to give a junior designer a chance here’s my resume. I didn’t expect anything out of it but Kevin (recruiting coordinator) did call me in for an interview and I was able to get a job there as a web designer in marketing.That is great. And it goes to show there is hidden talent everywhere, we as companies just have to be willing to take a chance. You and the rest of the design team have done a phenomenal job. Our design has really come a long way in your time here.Thank you, that’s really amazing to hear!No, thank you! It is well deserved. So what does a typical day here look like for you?I’m an early bird. I usually come in before the rest of engineering comes in. It’s nice because it’s quiet. I come in and usually take a look in Evernote and select the top three things I need to focus on. Then I address my email since we work with remote offices and make sure to answer their questions first, otherwise we would be wasting a day.Assuming you’re referring to Poland?Yes and sometimes India depending on the project. Then I tackle my top three priorities, usually I jump around a bit because we will have catch up meetings or someone will ask me a question.So you said you’re an early bird, what’s early for you?I usually get up around 6 or 6:30am and then get into the office around 7:45 or 8.Given the commute these days, on average how long does it take?It doesn’t take me longer than 35 minutes. I’m lucky since North San Jose isn’t too far.I wish I could do that every day. I’m 19 miles from here. If I miss the window of not leaving by 7, then I’m doomed. It can take me 45 min-1 hour. Only after 930 does the traffic go down on 101. The mornings are okay, but the evening is bad. Between 330-7, there’s no point on getting on the 101. Such a nightmare. I was thinking about it. All of us have stressful jobs, but the commute part is the biggest stress. Funny, because this is another conversation I continue to have quite a bit during these “Spark Spotlight” interviews.Something a little more positive than traffic, what is your favorite thing about Egnyte?The culture and the people. It’s very hard for me to ever consider leaving because I don’t know if a culture like this would ever be able to be replicated. I come to work and everyone is going toward the same goal. Everyone is passionate about the product. Not only do we get feedback from the designers but the executives and developers are excited and have a lot of feedback as well. To feel that kind of passion everyday makes me more excited about the product and how everyone wants the company as a whole to succeed.That’s fantastic. I love to hear feedback like that. I feel very similar about the excitement of coming to work every day, always wanting to see what we are accomplishing every day.Who is your biggest role model, personal or professional?My mom is my biggest role model. She has always strived for a better life for me and my siblings. She was a single mother for a long time and pushed for us to succeed.With that being said, if you had the chance to have dinner with anybody, dead or alive, who would it be?I’m a big family person so it would have to be my grandmother. She immigrated from the Phillipines to be with my grandpa in the 60’s. She’s an amazing woman. She petitioned for here and all 13 of her siblings to come to America. That’s why were so blessed to have such a big family in Bay Area. Having that kind of support here is amazing and their story makes for even more motivation.THIRTEEN SIBLINGS? That’s impressive! And what a great story. I can see that strength in you! What is something that other Egnyters don’t know about you?I’m a third generation twin. My mom is a twin and my grandpa was a twin.Wow, I didn’t even know that! Does she look like you? Has she come to any of our events?She does look like me but I usually bring my boyfriend to the company events so you haven’t seen her.I would love to meet her and see if I could tell you apart.Oh, also, a lot of Egnyters don’t know I used to play Roller Derby!The aggressive Roller Derby? That’s a pretty violent sport. How did you get into that?It was something that intrigued me and I wanted to take a chance at something I had never done before. I was doing this between 2011-2014 and it was the first thing I had to work really hard towards. I was not good in the beginning at all. I was small and didn’t know how to roller skate. Getting hit down is hard but when you’re on the track, you have to get up. No one is going to pick you up. It taught me some great life lessons, like how I learned to constantly pick myself up and know that everything is going to be okay. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Spark Spotlight: Cassie Torda- Egnyte Blog
I like that, that sounds like an awesome experience you really gained a lot from. Getting close to wrapping up here, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?It was right before middle of school. My uncle had pulled me aside and told me when you talk to people that you should always smile, always be kind, be nice to people, and don’t gossip because life will be more difficult. I’ve tried real hard to stick to that. Also, there’s no reason to be angry all the time, which really helped out in middle school and high school.And the worst?When I was interning, since I have a lot of good organizational skills like taking notes and such, someone advised me that I should look into being a secretary. No offense to any secretaries, but I am glad I didn’t take that advice – I love what I do!What’s the next big thing on your bucket list?I’d really love to like to visit the Phillipines soon. I’ve never been.You’ve never been? For somebody with such a strong bond with family and such a rich history there, you should definitely make a trip. We would be happy to give you some time off to go do that – when you can make some time (wink, wink)(giggles ensue)I will eventually, just need to save some money and find the right time to go.Well Cassie, this has been a wonderful discussion and I truly enjoyed it!Thank you Vineet, looking forward to catching up again soon!
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